I took some time to play some other video games this week, and I was sorely disappointed. Most games seem to get tossed on the proverbial shelf partway through, or get unceremoniously uninstalled upon completion. The only games I have consistently (or sometimes inconsistently) played for close to 20 years are the Creatures games. No surprise there! What makes them so intriguing, though? Why have I never tired of them for more than a few weeks? I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way about the games. What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!
Open-ended games without a set goal typically have the highest replayability factor. Each player can choose a unique playing style, which may or may not include specific goals. Yet it’s not actually an open world that gives Creatures its allure. New additions certainly keep it fresh and alive, yet there is something at the core. I have fond memories of the time I actually received the original Creatures game, which I’m sure plays a role! But I had similar reactions to games that never grabbed me, and have since faded away. Each title in the series has its strengths and weaknesses, which further makes the series more appealing.
To try to put my finger on it, I started up a world in Creatures 3. What makes this game so great? Creatures 3 and Docking Station are the ones that I enjoyed the least in terms of interactions with the Norns. Then I remembered the very first thing I always do with a new C3 world: Jump over to see what color rainbow sharklings I got! Ignoring the fact that CAOS commands can add more, I realized that this randomization was a very big part of my attachment. Aside from a small number of controllable factors, everything in Creatures is random. There is a new game experience each time a world loads, regardless of what happened last time. Two players can create identical worlds with identical starting Norns. And then after that first moment, everything becomes unique.
Then there is the underside of Creatures: All of the genetics and scientific components create limitless possibilities to learn. Yet there is one thing that many of us probably overlook most of the time: The backstory. Remember when you learned about how the Shee abandoned the Norns, and these eggs are the last of their kind? Maybe that’s not important to some players, but this is a major factor in the way I feel connected to my Creatures 1 Norns. In short, the beauty of the Creatures series is that there isn’t one thing that keeps me interested. It’s a huge ball of concepts that sticks with me, and I expect to still be playing decades from now!